Our History

The Goldin Institute was founded by Diane Goldin and Travis Rejman in 2002 when grassroots leaders from Chicago and 14 countries spent a week sharing their unique community-building approaches and reflecting on how to design a platform that would help them work together. This meeting set the vision, mission and values for the Goldin Institute, with a core commitment to ensure that those closest to the issue, especially excluded voices with the most at stake, have leadership roles in any social change movement.

Since our official incorporation in 2005, we’ve connected and equipped grassroots leaders in over 50 countries. The growing network of 100 Alumni in our Chicago Peace Fellows program have joined forces to launch the Mutual Aid Collaborative as an ongoing base for continued collaboration. Collectively, our Global Alumni network has over 200 Fellows spanning over 50 countries who meet monthly for ongoing learning and collaboration. By linking grassroots efforts in our global network, we provide opportunities to build innovative multi-sector partnerships that both adapt to particular local contexts and draw from creative solutions and approaches from around the globe.

  • Build on our assets by inviting their neighbors to share their talents and activating our shared community assets. We start with what we have and focus on what’s working rather than what we lack and what’s broken.
  • Commit to equity and justice to get at the root of the issues and so that people who are too often left out can take leadership roles in our future. We know that our diversity helps us to see and change the system.
  • Enhance both trust and capacity recognizing that our ability to make real and sustainable progress requires us to maintain bonds that keep us going when times are tough. We balance building relationships and taking action.
  • Make local and global connections by linking grassroots efforts in our global network, we provide opportunities to adapt creative solutions to local contexts. We connect and equip a global network of grassroots leaders.

Our vision and values enable bottom up strategies that add up to real change:

  • Driven by Grassroots Leadership: We build grassroots partnerships that are rooted in the power of communities working together to build their own solutions and determine their own futures.
  • Power of Community Partnerships: We ensure that the full range of community residents and their partners from all sectors of society are at the forefront of designing and implementing social change efforts.
  • Efficient and Effective Organization: We stay nimble and focused by launching and supporting innovative projects around the world and help local communities leverage our resources to scale up proven initiatives through partnerships.
  • Strategic and Organic Growth: Our work is strategic as we utilize our resources to engage critical leverage points and build partnerships as well as organic as it evolves from relationships we develop with grassroots leaders and their communities.